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Santiago de Compostela is the medieval centre of Galicia and also the capital of the region. It has been declared Cultural Heritage of Mankind, and is the finishing point of the Christian pilgrims´ roads (Caminos de Santiago) to the tomb of the Apostle St. James.
In the early 9th century, Bishop Teodomiro of Iria, discovered the tomb of the Apostle Saint James. Kings Alphonso II and Alphonso III built churches and founded the Antealtares and Pinario Monasteries. The worship of St James made the Moorish chief Al-Mansur distrustful, so he set fire and razed Compostela, taking the bells to Cordoba.
Later on, the pilgrimage reached its peak and Alphonso VI commenced work on the Romanesque Cathedral in 1075. Some years later, count Ramón de Borgoña and Diego Gelmírez promoted the work on this and other churches. The city grew and the population even revolted against Queen Urraca and Gelmírez in 1117. In spite of everything, the "Calixtine Codex" refers to the city as "the Apostle´s sublime city, filled with every kind of charm . . . so it is regarded as the happiest and most distinguished of the Spanish cities".
In 1211 Master Mateo and his school finished the Cathedral. The Middle Ages, not always peaceful, were coming to an end. The Renaissance arrived with the reign of the Catholic Monarchs and one of the first works of this period is the Royal Hospital, today a splendid hotel. Moreover, Archbishops of the Fonseca family left an indelible trace by founding the University, paying for the Cathedral´s splendid cloister and building Fonseca College.
The Baroque period restored the historical city, the cathedral, churches and monasteries, and left them almost exactly as they are now. The century-old tradition and Santiago´s contribution to the formation of Europe have lately brought the city international recognition. Thus Santiago has been declared World Heritage, and the Road to Santiago has been acknowledged as the First European Cultural Route and a World Heritage site. The calls for European unity coming from Santiago give clear proof of its transcendental role. All this, and the fact that it is the capital of the region, predict a promising future for Santiago.
Population: 95,966 (2016)
Province: Province of A Coruña
Elevation: 260 m
Sources include: Instituto Nacional de Estadística
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